GODS, DEVILS, AND MEN 57
the town, he found that there was a slight shower on the sixteenth, but
not enough to satisfy the crops or the farmers. He searched for the
reason and was told that prayer at the Taipo Mountain had never
-"failed, but that since the god had been made a count by a Sung emperor,
prayers to him no longer worked. Su looked up a volume of Tang
History and discovered that in the previous dynasty the Mountain Spirit
of Taipo had been created a duke. The spirit had been in fact degraded
in rank and was probably displeased on this account. Immediately, he
drafted for the chief magistrate a memorial to the Emperor asking that
the Mountain Spirit of Taipo be restored to his previous rank as a duke.
Then he and the chief magistrate took a ceremonial bath and sent a
special messenger to inform the spirit of what they had done in the way
of securing a higher rank for him, and also to bring back a basin of the
; Dragon water" from the pool.
On the nineteenth, Su Tungpo went out of the city to welcome the
arrival of the basin of "dragon water". The whole country population
was excited, for in the success of this venture they were all concerned.
Several thousand people had come from all over the countryside and
there was a great hubbub. The "dragon water" had not yet arrived.
But a huge sheet of dark clouds had overcast and darkened the sky.
The people waited a long time and still it did not rain. Su Tungpo
went into town again and prayed at Chenshing Temple with the chief
magistrate, Sung. On his way, he saw a column of cloud coming very
'dk5w over the ground and spreading in his direction. Borrowing a
basket from one of the farmers, he caught some of this cloud in the
basket and shut it as tightly as he could. The poem prayer he addressed
to this cloud when in the city says: "Now I am going to let you return
to the mountain-tops. Pray do not embarrass us, the officials." After
the prayer, he and Sung came out of the city again. As they reached
the suburb there was a sudden gush of cold wind. The flags and
pennants and tassels of spears waved violendy in the air, and from up
in the heights the clouds descended like a herd of wild horses. There
was a rumble of distant thunder. At this point, the basin of "dragon
water" arrived. Su and Sung went up to receive the basin and after
setting it up on a temporary altar, said a prayer to it, which is preserved
"along with his other prayers in his Wor\$. As if in answer to the
prayer, the showers came and spread all over the countryside. Two
days after, there came another heavy rain lasting three days, and the
wilting stalks of wheat and corn stood up again.'
Now there was great joy all over the country, but the poet was the
happiest of all. To commemorate this joyful occasion, he gave the
pavilion at the back of his official residence a new name, the "Pavilion
of Joyful Rain", and wrote an inscription on it. This inscription is one
of the favourite prose selections from Su Tungpo for use in schools